Jan. 19, 2012
IRVING, Texas - The Conference USA Men's Basketball Coach of the Year honor will now be known as the Gene Bartow Coach of the Year Award beginning this season. The annual award is sponsored by the Birmingham Tip Off Club and is presented on the first day of the C-USA Basketball Championship. C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced the change following a unanimous vote from the athletics directors.
Coach Bartow passed away earlier this month at the age of 81 after battling cancer for nearly three years. One of the most respected figures in intercollegiate athletics, Bartow served as UAB's first athletic director from 1977 until his retirement in 2000, taking the Blazers from their infancy into a 17-sport athletic program. He coached the UAB men's basketball team from its inception until 1996.
A 2009 inductee into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, Bartow led teams for more than 34 years, coaching at Central Missouri State, Valparaiso, Memphis State, Illinois, UCLA and ultimately UAB. He compiled 647 wins and coached his teams to 12 NCAA tournaments, a pair of Final Fours and one national championship game appearance with then-Memphis State. He was named the National Coach of the Year during that 1973 season with the Tigers.
"Gene Bartow not only made a significant impact on two programs within Conference USA, he was a great and respected friend to our office and all of our members," Banowsky said. "We know this honor will have extra meaning to our coaches and be a constant reminder of his outstanding contributions."
UAB head coach Mike Davis, the 2011 C-USA Coach of the Year, added, "Gene Bartow was a tremendous coach and an even better person. I think that the athletic directors, along with Conference USA, have found a great way recognize Coach Bartow, who was a truly outstanding ambassador for all of college basketball."